Privacy. Is it a right or a privilege? Do we “deserve” privacy? Do we lose our right to privacy if we maintain online activity via social media? Just what is private and what is not?
Recently, someone I know posted a comment on my Facebook page that revealed information about me that I generally keep private, except from very close friends and family. It wasn’t done maliciously or in a way to purposely reveal my business, and was stated as part of a response to a post of mine, but nonetheless, it was put out there in a world where I don’t generally discuss that particular info.
I deleted the comment quickly (thank God for smart phones) and private-messaged the person right away. I very respectfully asked them to refrain from posting comments like that as it was a subject I kept private for some very good reasons.
The person’s response shocked me.
The person wrote back that they didn’t think I would have an issue with having my private information discussed publicly because I was so open about everything else in my life via my blog, Twitter and Facebook.
Ok, so before everyone who blogs, tweets or Facebooks goes all ape-shit crazy over this person’s statement (like I initially did when I first read it), I think it actually raises an interesting point. (And to this person’s defense – I have never asked the people I know to keep this particular information about me private.)
Do we willingly relinquish a certain amount, or all, of our personal privacy by maintaining online social media activity?
The obvious answer is “YES”, without a doubt. Because we ARE putting ourselves out there. Pictures, personal stories, sharing of our children’s lives, our spouses – you name it, we sometimes share it.
I think that is the key for people using social media, and it’s very clear to US that WE are the gatekeepers of our own personal information. However, like my Facebook revealer, how many people out there misunderstand our use of social media and interpret it as a narcissistic need for attention, or a license for everyone we know to join in the sharing of OUR lives? How do we control these misconceptions?
It might make sense that if you have details about you that you don’t want revealed via social media, some investment into the protection of those personal details would be in order, similar to the time you invest into things such as the privacy of your account access. There is so much media focus on security settings for all of your social media, yet nobody talks about how to avoid having your “little secrets” accidentally revealed by someone you know. If you are discussing personal matters via private emails, phone or face-to-face discussions, don’t forget to mention to the audience that these are details you will NOT be sharing via social media. As for details that you may have already privately shared in the past but not on social media, and don’t want shared on social media – never hurts to send out an email asking friends and family to please understand that anything you’ve previously discussed with them was for their eyes or ears only, and that while you enjoy using social media, YOU prefer to be the one who chooses what gets disclosed and what stays private.
This might all seem rather basic and I can see why. It’s easy to put the responsibility of keeping your private matters private on those you trust in your life, and to simply assume that people you know and trust would know better. I thought that too, but the reality is that it’s something that could have been prevented with better due diligence on my part as well.
Now, stop wondering what my dirty little secrets are and start thinking about what YOU would prefer to keep private and how you can do it.
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